many years ago, i learned a little about validation therapy but i keep forgetting about it. it is a form of therapy that works with very old people, especially people with severe alzheimer’s. of course, the types of therapy that work in these situations always have something in it that can be very powerful in other types of therapy, as well. today, my friend barbara posted a video about it. can you watch it without crying?
sometimes asking the right questions is what turns a problem around. and often making the questions as precise as possible is a good thing. i’m going to take the liberty of using one of raul’s posts. he asked, “why can’t i sometimes help the people i love the most?” (by the way – read it. it’s quite moving.)
maybe that was the right question. and i wonder, how else could this have been approached? let’s take the word “sometimes”. when it’s important to indicate that something doesn’t happen all the time, it’s a great word. on the other hand, there are situations where “sometimes” obscures what’s going on. in that case, it might be a good idea to ask something like
“why can’t i help my loved ones who have cancer?”
the good thing about rewriting a question is that it helps us see it in a different light. looked at it this way, i start to wonder, is this really a question, or is it a – a sigh perhaps, a sigh phrased as a question …
what, though, if it really is a question? in that case i’d like to know what the questioner is trying to accomplish, what the exact knowledge is that he wants to gain. in this case, i imagine that raul wants to help his loved ones who have cancer. so we could end up with this question:
“how can i help my loved ones who have cancer?”
this is a question that can be answered much easier, and can lead to action.
there are other times, though, when taking this rational approach doesn’t go anywhere useful or satisfactory.
“why can’t i get over my negative feelings about my father?” is a question someone (let’s call her perl) asked the other day. turning this into “how can i get over my negative feelings about my father?” didn’t have any effect. it was a long-standing problem that just didn’t want to go away. “what will your life look like once you’ve gotten over it?” produced only a lukewarm discussion; it just didn’t resonate, the possibility seemed too far away. “do you want to get over it?” is a question i asked quietly – it didn’t seem appropriate to ask at that particular point. so we were at a stalemate.
then we let go of reason. all we wanted was find a question …
“why can’t i get over my father?”
“why can’t i get my father?”
“why can’t i get it?”
“why can’t i let go?”
“what’s it like to let go?”
“what’s ‘let go’?”
“what’s let, what’s go?”
when we arrived at the last question, perl started laughing. it was a loud, free, happy laugh.
“it’s a koan!” she said, “i found my koan!”
the question doesn’t make much sense. but then not being able to let go of her negative feelings about her father after all these years of therapy didn’t make much sense either.
a koan goes deeper. it pierces through the shield of rationality – an important shield, one we are in great need of, but it’s not the level at which most of our life takes place. “why can’t i get over my negative feelings about my father?” it’s a mystery. so we went to a place of mystery.
what will perl do with this koan?
i don’t know.
where does a koan go?
in my long-suffering attempts to organize my internet life better, i’m going to see what it’s like if i post the occasional link article. so here’s a stroll through the links open on august 1, with the first paragraph of each post so that you can get an idea what it’s all about. you may even end up reading something!
for most of my life, finding friends and work that honored my intensity and intelligence wasn’t an issue for me.
make my psychotherapy plain, but with a twist
by tom ellis, PsyD, ABPP on july 23, 2010
jon allen‘s post “is psychotherapy going to POT?” is spot on in terms of describing the quandary faced by psychotherapists and their patients with respect to the double-edged sword of “prescriptive therapies.”
the moment i spotted MentalHealthCamp toronto i wanted to help make it happen here. years ago i was a volunteer MIND mental health advocate in the old hackney psychiatric hospital (a former workhouse) which was a schooling in one side of mental health services. now that i’m an accidental digital innovator i can see the huge potential in a mashup of mental health and digital, which i can’t really put better than the MentalHealthCamp toronto mission statement :
dr. khalid sohail, a psychiatrist by profession has been passionately writing for the last two decades. his collections of poems, stories, travelogues, novellas and essays have been published in english, urdu and punjabi. his writings are an attempt to share his humanistic philosophy of life. he summarized his views in his book “pages of my heart” in the following words:
edge: getting at the neuroanthropology of morality
edge has just posted a new seminar, the new science of morality. you get lots of access to interviews, links to papers, videos, exchange of views, reactions from the press, and more. quite stimulating.
a month from now, on saturday, august 14, i’ll be attending vancouver’s first NetSquared camp, a day-long event for people who work at the intersection of social change and technology. the goal of the event is to build skills and capacity through peer learning, and invites the participation of “nonprofits, activists and social entrepreneurs [along] with their friends and allies in the world of technology and communications.”
in a study of an experimental treatment for major depression, pretreatment testing to probe the function of a specific brain center predicted how patients would respond to ketamine, a medication that can lift depression rapidly in some people. the work suggests it may be possible to develop ways to use such assessments in the future, not only to better understand depression, but to guide treatment choices for individuals.
basic principles to remember:
the 30 second rule: the first 30 seconds in a confrontation, or your response to being confronted, will determine whether or not productive dialogue will even begin.
coaching at work magazine – mark on a difficult case
mark mckergow is featured in the current issue of coaching at work magazine (http://www.coaching-at-work.com). in the troubleshooter column, a difficult case is presented and expert responses are sought. here’s the problem:
international online training program on intractable conflict
conflict research consortium, university of colorado, USA
the problem with the use of violent confrontation strategies is that they quickly escalate to the point where the parties’ only concerns are victory, vengeance, and self-defense. in these cases, the moral arguments of people who are being unjustly treated become irrelevant. what matters is that they have used violent strategies and their opponent is, therefore, justified in a violent response. this problem is complicated by the fact that both sides are usually able to argue that the other side started the violence.
eight steps for workplace confrontations
one of the challenging things about working in a team environment is that there are times when people behave in ways that we find unproductive, offensive, or hurtful. when we ignore these feelings the relationship can suffer as our resentment festers. yet fear at confronting others can prevent us from taking positive action. today’s post contains a checklist you can use to determine if a confrontation is appropriate, and if so, how to move forward.
the missing ingredient in most social media strategies
what is the missing ingredient in most strategies i’ve seen? actual strategy.
according to research published in the journal of consulting and clinical psychology, writing about stressful or traumatic events related to one’s sexual identity may be an effective treatment for gay-related stress.
forms in english haiku
japanese haiku have been traditionally composed in 5-7-5 syllables. when poets started writing english haiku in the 1950’s, they adopted this 5-7-5 form, thinking it created a similar condition for english-language haiku. this style is what is generally considered “traditional” english haiku.
gogyÅka (äº”è¡ŒæŒ?, literally, “five line poem”) is a form of japanese poetry invented by enta kusakabe (è‰å£ã€€ç„”å¤ªï¼‰ in 1957, in an attempt to escape the constraints of haiku and tanka poetry. unlike traditional japanese poetry, gogyÅka has no mora or syllable requirement for the length of its lines, which is instead governed by the duration of a single breath. the only defining rule of gogyÅka is that the poem should be five lines long. in addition to japanese and english, gogyÅka have been written in french, chinese, arabic, tagalog, korean, and latin.
on being chronically absent : “calling for my soul, at the corners of the world, i know she’s playing poker, with the rest of the stragglers”
i have always been an absentee. sometimes by choice, sometimes by chance. i still do all of my work, and put great effort into it. but i have never been keen on always attending class. sometimes i feel that the time is better spent working from home, getting much more done. some classes i never want to miss, and am sad when i do. i don’t play hooky, like i must admit – i did quite often in elementary school – but at times absenteeismt is necessary. sometimes i need “mental health” days off. actually, i find it ridiculous that this isn’t expected at the “workplace”, since it has been found that most “sick calls” are due to feeling mentally worn out, than due to being physically ill. if you get the flu, go home, best that you not spread it! i feel the same is true of mental exhaustion and the need to get away for a while – a short leave of absence is simply necessary for one to “perform to the best of their abilities” (what any employer assumedly wants – accuracy, efficiency, obedience…, but when you try to suppress the negative energy that fills your disposition, it spills out onto the people you are working with, and for (diners, students, etc.)
the rise of the psychopharmaceutical industry 1987-2010
written and submitted by mary ackerley ***md, mdh
mary beth ackerley md is a harvard and johns hopkins trained board certified psychiatrist. she now practices holistic psychiatry.
robert whitaker’s brilliant book anatomy of an epidemic asks a simple question.why , if psychiatric drug treatments are so efficacious, has the number of people on disability for mental illness more than tripled in the last 25 years? most doctors and researchers answered this question by stating that the numbers have increased simply because we are diagnosing more people with mental illness. in response to this stereotyped dismissal of his data, robert began to do more research on the efficacy of known psychiatric treatments. and then, while poring through the psychiatric scientific literature on treatment effectiveness for the last fifty years he found an even darker question beginning to emerge. “is it possible that psychiatric drugs are actually making people much worse?” could it be that far from “fixing broken brains” the drugs being offered actually are worsening, and even causing, the very illnesses they claim to heal?
google may be expanding into cell phones, operating systems, and tablet pcs, but it’s still known best for search. google’s engineers have tricked out the search engine with a number of tools, shortcuts, and features that can help you better access the information you’re after–whether it’s finding out how many euros to the dollar, when your favorite team is playing next, or whether to leave home with an umbrella.
sciencedaily (july 30, 2010) ” two powerful new tests developed by psychologists at harvard university show great promise in predicting patients’ risk of attempting suicide.
saving the lives of 15 eight week old puppies
a better life dog rescue has just agreed to save the lives of 15 eight week old puppies that were going to be euthanized by a california shelter on friday. a rescue organization in los angelos asked numerous rescue groups in the states and canada for help to save these puppies lives.
dog breed selector quiz
ibizan hound size: medium. coat: silky. straight. coat length: short. grooming: easy, low-maintenance. very unlikely to drool. little to no shedding. very high activity level. bred as a game hunting companion. low intelligence. somewhat easier than average to train. very wary of other pets. tolerates strangers well. good with kids four and up. very affectionate. quite dependent. quiet. somewhat shorter than average estimated lifespan. in america, a rare breed. not well suited for apartment living.
with over 1,000 blog posts, my memory of what has been written here is getting a bit fuzzy. to remedy that, i thought that once in a while i’d write a post about old posts. these here are reader comments on the topic of depression from looong ago:
it’s hard to get past the stigma. my mother was diagnosed with bipolar about 13 years ago, but since then the diagnosis has changed to schizophrenia. i have jumped up and down and ranted about “not being ashamed” etc. but when it comes to my own depression, nope there’s nothing wrong with me. i think i’m only just coming to terms with it.
there is a big percentage of people who are homeless and have a disability, and often their mental health is severely compromised. no wonder, of course – even if you start out semi healthy mentally, the tough life of being homeless can really grind you down. contrary to what is often believed, homelessness is rarely a choice.
regarding stress and depression … i often think that if we were to attack the reasons for this, it would turn into a revolution … [that was a comment contributed by myself in reply to others’ comments]
i love [the] analogy of an “emotional storm” [for depression]. i hope we can take note that self-isolation comes very easily, and sometimes without our noticing it. when i was in the throes of depression, i was isolating myself quite a bit. isabella shares ways we can “safely” connect with others and extricate ourselves from dangerous isolation (contributed by jane chin, who runs one of the oldest mental health sites on the internet)
from seasonal storms
industrial society destroys mind and environment.
the fast-paced, consumerist lifestyle of industrial society is causing exponential rise in psychological problems besides destroying the environment. all issues are interlinked. our minds cannot be peaceful when attention-spans are down to nanoseconds, microseconds and milliseconds. our minds cannot be peaceful if we destroy nature.
the link between mind and social / environmental-issues.
subject : in a fast society slow emotions become extinct.
subject : a thinking mind cannot feel.
subject : scientific/ industrial/ financial thinking destroys the planet.
subject : environment can never be saved as long as cities exist.
emotion is what we experience during gaps in our thinking.
if there are no gaps there is no emotion.
today people are thinking all the time and are mistaking thought (words/ language) for emotion.
when society switches-over from physical work (agriculture) to mental work (scientific/ industrial/ financial/ fast visuals/ fast words ) the speed of thinking keeps on accelerating and the gaps between thinking go on decreasing.
there comes a time when there are almost no gaps.
people become incapable of experiencing/ tolerating gaps.
man becomes machine.
a society that speeds up mentally experiences every mental slowing-down as depression / anxiety.
a (travelling) society that speeds up physically experiences every physical slowing-down as depression / anxiety.
a society that entertains itself daily experiences every non-entertaining moment as depression / anxiety.
fast visuals /words make slow emotions extinct.
scientific /industrial /financial thinking destroys emotional circuits.
a fast (large) society cannot feel pain / remorse / empathy.
a fast (large) society will always be cruel to animals/ trees/ air/ water/ land and to itself.
knowing that pain can be linked to depression really doesn’t do me much good, unless i take that knowledge and start looking for ways to deal with those feelings. thank you for articulating this so well; it’s helpful to read things that clarify thoughts rolling around in my brain. (contributed by nickie)
from why, what and how
[about my office] this room is very colorful !! i love it !! it doesn’t seem to be the “norm” for a therapists’ room though. i’ve sought counceling in the past and the rooms i’ve always been in were basically eggshell white with a blah bookcase with blah books on it and blah seating arrangements. i’m not sure the lack of “distractions” helped, or hurt though. for example, if i’m seeking counseling for depression, going to a “vibrant, colorful” room such as yours, would force my spirts to be uplifted rather then enhance my current depressed state. the double edge sword of that would be, my true feelings of depression might be masked by the “brightness” of your room, forcing me to not fully elaborate on my inner feelings. would it be best to be in a “drab eggshell white” room with little or no “distractions” ? heck, this could be a whole new blog post !!! “counseling rooms, distractions or places of refuge ?”
from sharing water
exercise – it works for depression is the title of a post i wrote for brainblogger the other day. it is about a large-scale study, the SMILE study (standard medical intervention and long-term exercise, conducted at duke university), which found that vigorous exercise three times a week for half an hour or forty-five minutes reduced symptoms of depression as effectively as antidepressants. there is the beginning of an interesting discussion in the comments about how to discuss findings like with people who are in the midst of depression.
any thoughts on this?
this is my entry for joanna young’s newest mission impossible group writing project where she challenged writers to push their blogging boundaries. i had asked you, my dear readers, to suggest what i should do. all kinds of interesting ideas came up and i’ll definitely try to incorporate as many as possible in my blog in the coming weeks.
a podcast was something that i had wanted to do for a long time but never go around to (that was a suggestion by raj, by the way). i needed to move out of my comfort zone for it – simply in terms of overcoming the procrastination of trying it for the first time; and also because i certainly don’t feel as comfortable speaking as i do writing.
so here we are: my first podcast (see the fancy tingamajig at the end of the post). not quite sure that the technology works the way i want it to, so just to be on the safe side, here is another link to the audio file.
by the way, this is also my 1000th post. last year around this time i had my 1000th entry (including all the pages, the archives, etc.). but this is the 1000th real post. yay!!!
aaand – here is the text version:
i thought i should also discuss a topic i don’t usually discuss here. quite a while ago, one of my blogging friends, pete quily, who, by the way, is one awesome authority on adult attention deficit disorder (or attention surplus, as he often likes to refer to) – so good ol’ pete asked me what topics i am interested and do NOT write about. that’s a question that’s tumbled around in my mind for a long time now.
so one of those topics is dreams. i am very interested in dreams but for some reason i never blog about them. here’s one i wrote down a little while ago.
biking to haedy’s in the middle of the night. i turn the corner along some row houses and can’t find her house for the life of me. instead, i see a huge starship hovering over vancouver, surrounded by lots of lights.
later it turns out that is a threat. i and a few others from a theatre troupe are spies. we get locked into a barrel-like wheel and spun off somewhere.
later: a basement theatre. it takes a break in the afternoon. it’s hot. i try to close it but enemy type people keep trying to get in. i have a hard time closing the right door and even there: one is just a bamboo screen, the other a very flimsy lock.
in the basement theatre. i need to take a shower. i step into the shower and detect that i can communicate telepathically with the shower. i ask about the threat associated with the starship. something big and apocalyptic will happen. i ask the shower a bunch of questions about it (it’s a bit like pendulum divination). in the end, i ask the shower whether it has good intentions towards me. it doesn’t. i immediately step out.
i know something apocalyptic is going to happen. maybe just one more day to live for everyone. i want to be with loved ones, very much. but they are all difficult to reach. i’d even settle for someone called tony, a questionable actor who at least doesn’t want to kill me.
later, my husband, my youngest daughter and i talk. we now know that there is going to be a massive earthquake. what is the safest place to go? an inland plain, i decide. definitely not by the sea, and not by the mountains. maybe a place like langley? how will we get there?
if a client brought this dream into a session, what would we look at?
first of all, the client might have something come up immediately; i’ll always take the client’s lead.
often, though, a client brings something that she or he doesn’t quite know what to do with. in that case, i might ask a question about the part that had the most energy. when people tell a story, their faces, body language and voices tell a story, too. their eyes might light up at a certain point, or they might cross their legs and look out the window all of a sudden. there might be a long pause somewhere or a feeling of uncertainty.
in this case, the shower scene seemed significant. “interesting,” i might say, “you were communicating with the shower.”
and so we could have a conversation about that. what does it mean to talk to a shower? what’s a shower? is it about rain? cleanliness? oh – there’s a connection to the shower scene in hitchcock’s psycho? yes, right, the shower has evil intentions. and you stepped out of it right away. do you always do that – remove yourself when there is danger? no? that was unusual? in what other ways was that dream unusual?
psychology is still unclear about the cause and function of dreams. one way to look at dreams, though, is to take them as narrative – a way for a person to tell a story about important aspects in their lives. “everything is autobiographical,” says freud, a quote that can be used in so many ways. a dream is autobiographical, the way it is told is autobiographical, and how the person talks about it autobiographical. sometimes a telepathic shower is just weird, and that’s it. but to me – to my biography, my life story – it was meaningful. i don’t need to consult any dream books, though. all i need, and all so many of us need, is just an hour of talking to someone about it.
the other day i discovered postrank, (thanks, beth) which ranks your blog’s post according to some algorithm of popularity, interactivity, etc. these 11 are among the highest-ranked entries here for last year. it’s a nice way to look back on 2008, and also to start saying some much-needed thanks. for each post, i’ve included a link to someone who contributed to it.
- progressive dinner is served was an interesting project by kilroy. it was a sort of online dinner party. lots of fun!
- unexamined belief and spiritual atheism was part of an interesting conversation between my vancouver blogger friend jan and myself.
- cognitive therapy – the 10 distortions was a guest article by damien, father, teacher, writer, and one of the most prolific bloggers i know.
- two views of depression started like this: “the other day, marc challenged me with this idea: can depression, or any other challenge such as alcoholism or bipolar disorder, be an entity of its own, with its own agenda and will to survive?”
- easter: wrestling with the church was an attempt to come to grips with a somewhat unsettling experience of going to a christian church for the first time in a while. evan was one of the people who contributed to the ensuing conversation.
- helping a friend with depression was inspired by a post on PsychCentral, predicting that january 21st would be the most depressing day of the year.
- the 3rd edition of the buddhist carnival was the most successful buddhist carnival this year. there is an interesting conversation about zen and martial arts in the comment section, with some contributions by chris – something that i’d still like to follow up on.
- a solution for “but” is about ego death, solution focused therapy, and the little word “but”. it was greatly helped along by a blog post by my buddhist blogger friend william harryman, ego and the self.
- early on a wednesday morning: wordless, with a beautiful image by luke carter, is a nice sample of the wordless wednesday series, which i really enjoy.
- bullying stops here was a quick post about the international stand up to bullying day, well illustrated by vancouver blogger jordan behan wearing a pink t-shirt.
- and finally, the carnival of eating disorders #13 included a post by angelique about eating disorders before the internet.
image by imago
a guest post by captain tom, on the topic of fear of flying that we’ve discussed on and off here on this blog.
first, by way of introduction, i’m both an airline captain and a licensed therapist. working with people who have trouble with flying has been my specialty for twenty-eight years.
i am fully trained in hypnotherapy and in NLP (neurolinguistic programming). i studied both years ago in my search for things that would help me treat fear of flying clients. i found hypnotherapy to be very “hit or miss”, too unreliable. NLP works with mild cases of flight anxiety.
over the years, my work has been focused on work with people unable to find help any place else. thus, we give away ” free ” the help that some other sites charge for. for free help, see the SOAR library and other free help is available at the fear of flying web site
we also offer free group phone sessions every wednesday night.
there is a great deal of misunderstanding about the cause of fear of flying. it is not caused by a bad flight; most people on a bad flight don’t develop fear of flying. difficulty with flying is caused by insufficient ability to regulate feelings when facing uncertainty.
research since the advent of the functional MRI just eight years ago has helps us understand how the brain works. we now recognize that the ability to regulate feelings is learned and that the part of the brain that does this regulation requires stimulation of the right kind during the first two years of life. the right kind of stimulation requires a caregiver who is empathically attuned to the infant and responds to the infant’s signals, rather than simply providing for the infant according to an agenda set by the caregiver.
if the child is afraid, the caregiver needs to tune into the child’s fear in a way the child really knows the caregiver feels the same way. thus the child knows he or she is not alone.
then, the magic happens; the caregiver then lets the child know that ” though the child’s fear is 100% shared ” the adult has an additional point of view, which is that it is not the end of the world; it will work out alright.
many of us, obviously, didn’t get such optimal early development. thus, when facing uncertainty, we control our anxiety by being in control of the situation, or by having a way to out of it.
that works fairly well on the ground ” except for annoying those who regard us as control freaks. but when flying, there is uncertainty, of course. and, not being in control and not having a way out, there is no way to regulate the feelings.
therapists try to help with CBT (cognitive behavioral therapy), but anxiety can develop so rapidly that CBT techniques cannot keep up with the anxiety build-up.
hypnosis is pretty “hit or miss”. if it helps on one flight, it can fail to help on another flight.
medications are not to be recommended ” according to the world health organization ” because when sedated, the passenger doesn’t move around enough to protect against DVT, deep vein thrombosis. if a DVT clot forms, it is a serious and potentially life-threatening problem.
also, use of medications ” according to research ” is only helpful in very mild cases of fear of flying. in more severe cases, medications make the flight worse!